NESC Forum 2009: Panel Session

Patrick Hunt introduced Neil Craig, Ken Wallace, Gary Slater, Andrew Matheson as the panel members.

Patrick noted that the theme for the NESC Forum was relationships between coach, practitioner, manager, and athlete. This panel explored these relationships. Patrick worked as the facilitator for this panel.

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Andrew discussed how a diverse group of people worked together in a network for a performance outcome cohered in rowing.

Neil discussed how the system worked in a club culture. It is a culture that is results driven. It is strong on continuing improvement. Athletes deliver the product. The expectation of sports scientists is to fit into the culture. The club has decided to compete in all games. This needs innovation and the willingness to make errors. The expectation is that you must contribute to the health of the team: you must trust each other and work together. It is important to address any issues early. Neil emphasised accountability and responsibility.

Gary discussed his role as practitioner bringing teams together. He noted the dfferent role he played as a consultant.

Ken discussed his role as an athlete. Want to work closely with coach. Trust and communication. A lot of services happen away from me as athlete. Athlete wants everyone on same page and for me to be the best. Example of Beijing Games. Communications system as an example. Ken’s background doing it tough outside the system. Love and passion before HP system. Still discovering opportunities. Top end 1% quest.

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Neil discussed what would change the team dynamic. Losing He is getting better at being no different at all. Adversity is seen as an opportunity, and the voice of responsibility is encouraged. Players want a balanced approach from coach and from each other. Blame is transformed by responsibility. The club has a 24 hour rule about response to performance. After 24 hours next phase starts. Winning is a challenge particularly with a block of success (Geelong, Women’s Hockey) and can be seductive. There needs to be a rigorous, candid approach. AFL performance is very public. This is a whole club ethos and the senior coach’s responsibility. Neil defines and dictates the culture of the club. There are tough conversations to ensure no issues fester.

Andrew discussed his NZ experience and noted the strength of a centralised program. Everyone is in same place. It is easy to facilitate discussions and interactions. Centralisation helps simplify delivery. There are many enablers focused on performance.

Neil asked who controls this relationship? Who appoints? At the club Neil determines employment decisions. What if you are a sports scientist in a system? This led to a wide ranging discussions about sport scientists and coaching.

Andrew discussed chasing the 1% of innovation and missing the 95%: what if we get the right athletes and coaches; develop simple technical models from the first stroke: and the athletes are conditioned and nourished. They will be well prepared athletes. Andrew continued with his discussion of managing a data rich sport. It is very important to have critical wisdom to identify relevant, appropriate data.

Neil discussed managing interactions within a club and the importance to be attached to meetings and touching base. Gary discussed facilitating a network of practitioners. Ken discussed the occasional meetings with service staff and continuous daily work with coach.

Andrew, Ken, Gary and Neil discussed what excited them about their work.

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